Latest Faculty of Information Events
May 23
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Foodways and Fisticuffs

140 Saint George Street
Room 728
Toronto, ON
M5S 3G6


Presented by: Faculty of Information, University of Toronto | Culinaria Research Centre, University of Toronto Scarborough | Culinary Historians of Canada


Montreal Gazette food writer Julian Armstrong and culinary historian and McGill professor Nathalie Cooke

What: Why have bagels and smoked meats become de facto Montreal food icons? Why did tourtière and pouding chômeur spark impassioned brawls? How did Joe Beef’s social advocacy support the working-class community in the 19th century? Why do our latest food trends remind us of bygone days?

From world-class restaurants to popular and affordable foodstuffs, food has been an iconic part of Quebec identity across and through cultural, religious and linguistic shifts. Montreal Gazette food writer Julian Armstrong and culinary historian and McGill professor Nathalie Cooke will explore how French Canadian passion and iconic personalities have shaped Quebec’s distinctive culinary traditions. They will also delve into the way food tastes change over time, and introduce a toolkit for cooking with historical recipes.


Julian Armstrong has been reporting on food for newspapers for the better part of five decades and has covered everything from gastronomy and food prices to nutrition and food safety. She was food editor of the Montreal Star and then of the Montreal Gazette, for whom she now writes Six O’Clock Solution, which provides a quick review of a new cookbook and a simple dinner dish from the book.

But Julian is happiest writing about Quebec cuisine, where the latest developments in food and drink and centuries-old culinary traditions co-exist in harmony in a province in which residents carry on an enduring love affair with food that is perhaps unique in the world.

She is the author of Made In Quebec: A Culinary Journey (HarperCollins, 2014) and A Taste of Quebec (Macmillan, 1990, updated in 2001). She has helped to choose winners of national cookbook contests in Canada and the United States. The International Association of Culinary Professionals appointed her honorary writer-in-residence at its 2003 conference in Montreal. She is a founding member of the Association of Food Journalists and of the Cuisine Canada culinary alliance (now known as Taste Canada) and she has judged countless chefs’ contests. Most recently she was a judge at the Gold Medal Plates competition, which raises money for Canada’s Olympic athletes.

Nathalie Cooke is associate dean of McGill Library (rare and special collections) and professor of English at McGill University in Montreal. Her publications focus on the shaping of culinary and literary taste and she teaches courses in Canadian literature and Canadian food history. She is founding editor of the journal CuiZine: The Journal of Canadian Food Cultures: Revue des cultures culinaires au Canada (2009-), and editor of What’s to Eat? Entrées in Canadian Food History (2009). Most recently, she is co-editor of Mrs. Johnson’s Receipt Book: A Treasury of Cookery and Medicinal Receipts, 1741-1848 (2015); and of Catharine Parr Traill’s The Female Emigrant’s Guide, Cooking with a Canadian Classic (2017), which includes resource materials to make this publication a toolkit for those exploring historical cookery.

Open to the Public, RSVP required – please visit

Refreshments will be served – coffee, tea, and Julian’s Maple Pie, baked by CHC!

For more information please contact Professor Irina D. Mihalache at or Culinary Historians of Canada at